For the Song of the Week Mini-Competition, Week 4. Prompt: Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
I own nothing.
"But there's a side to you
That I never knew, never knew.
All the things you'd say
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win."
~Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain"
It's Thursday, and that means the empty classroom on the fourth floor. Every Thursday, unless Remus cancels – like he did last week. His mother was sick. Again.
Regulus hops on on the desk, his legs just short enough that they don't quite touch the floor. He doesn't bother with lights; he can see just fine without them. He likes the dim light, it's only source the waning moon.
Remus comes in, and he absently, silently flicks his wand and turns on the lights. He does this every time. "Hello, Regulus," he says, smiling softly.
"I'm tired, Remus," Regulus murmurs languidly.
Remus frowns, his eyebrows furrowing. He can tell Regulus doesn't just mean that he needs sleep.
"What are you tired of?" Remus asks slowly, coming to sit on the desk across the aisle from Regulus. His long legs easily touch the floor.
"I'm tired," Regulus says, each word methodical and deliberate. "Of all the lies. I'm tired… of all the games. I'm tired… of you, seeing how far you can get me to trust you, without you trusting me at all."
Regulus feels like he should, properly, be angry. He should be fighting to school his tone, his expression, into their normal state of disinterest.
But he's not.
He's not angry. He's just done.
Remus seems startled. "I haven't-" he starts, but Regulus interrupts him.
"Don't. Don't try to say that you haven't. I'm not stupid, Remus. I'm not blind." He can hear the resignation in his own tone. "I know, Remus."
Remus pales at the words. But Regulus isn't done. "I know there's something you aren't telling me. I know you don't trust me. I know that there's some side of you that you won't let me see.
"And you know what? For some reason, I'm actually all right with that. I can deal with the fact that there's a part of your life that you don't want to show me. Everyone has secrets. It's not like I've never kept anything from you.
"The problem, then, becomes, how much of this is a lie? How much of this is just a game to you? Because I don't want to be just a game to you. I'm not going to be just a game."
Remus shakes his head. "You're not just a game, Reg. I swear to you that."
And Regulus looks him in the eyes, his grey eyes burning with something Remus can't identify, and Regulus believes him. But, then, Regulus trusts Remus. He believes him too easily.
Regulus shakes his head.
"What?" Remus asks quietly.
Regulus laughs once, bitterly. "I don't know anymore. I don't know how to tell if you're lying." And it's not something he'd normally tell a person – it gives them too much leverage, too much of an advantage. Regulus is a Slytherin through and through; he knows all about holding your cards close. But not, apparently, when it comes to Remus. Merlin, Regulus hates trust. Trust makes him weak; it makes him vulnerable.
And Remus looks truly regretful – or, at least, Regulus thinks he does. He doesn't trust his own opinion on that anymore, either. "I'm sorry," he says. "I don't mean to…" But Remus doesn't appear to know exactly what he doesn't mean to do, because he doesn't finish the sentence.
"I'm not… I'm not doing this to hurt you, Regulus. It's just… It's not even about you." But then Remus shakes his head. "No, that's not right. It is, but it's… It's bigger than you. At the same time, though, it's not. Ugh. I'm not making any sense, am I?"
Regulus just shakes his head, eyebrows raised skeptically. Remus is normally quite eloquent.
"You say that… You say you know that there's a part of me that I'm not showing you. And you're right, there is. But, Regulus, I'm not showing it to you for a reason. It's like… Ugh. I don't even know how to say this." He sighs. "Look – It's not about hurting you. It's about keeping you from getting hurt, y'know?"
Regulus elegantly raises one eyebrow. "No, Remus, I don't know. You haven't actually told me anything." He purses his lips. "Look, Rem, we've all got secrets. We've all got a dark side."
"Hmm," Remus hums with a dark sort of mirth, bitter and black. "Not like this." The same dark amusement is in his amber eyes – as though, if he doesn't laugh at this, he'll break because of it. "You'd hate me for it," Remus says, so softly that Regulus wonders if he wasn't actually meant to hear it.
Regulus shakes his head. "I don't think I could hate you for anything."
But Remus disagrees. "You'd hate me for this."
"Why don't you let me decide that?"
Remus sighs. "I can't, Reg. I just can't."
Regulus slides off the desk, landing with a thump. He leans against it. "I'm so tired of playing games, Remus."
Remus blinks. "I'm not playing games, Regulus. I don't play games, not with things like this."
"Don't you?" Regulus asks calmly. "You're playing games with fate, aren't you? Playing games with secrets, games with lies." Regulus toys with a knut he's pulled out of his pocket, twirling it between his fingers. "Let me tell you something, Remus. Fate? Chance? They're cruel mistresses. And lies are not something a novice should play games with. Sometimes, someone… slips." And as he says the last word, he lets the knut fall through his fingers. With Seeker-honed reflexes, he snatches it out of the air with his other hand before it hits the ground.
Remus leans forward, his elbows on his knees. "What are you saying, Regulus?"
Regulus raises his gaze to meet Remus's eyes. "What do you think I'm saying, Remus?"
Remus drops his eyes first. "Don't, Regulus. Please don't. Don't go looking into this. I know you – you've stayed out of it so far. If you hadn't, you'd know the whole story by now. I don't know if that's respect, or something else, but whatever it is, I appreciate it. But, Regulus, if you trust me at all, on anything, trust me on this. Don't go after this. You're better off not knowing."
"Am I?" Regulus asks, but it's not a defiant tone, it's a disinterested one. "Ignorance is bliss," he muses aloud. "But knowledge is power. Still, as beneficial as power is, there are things one is better off unaware of."
"Please, Regulus. Trust me on this." Remus meets his eyes once more, amber eyes wide with sincerity.
And Regulus hates himself for nodding, but he does. He hates trust, because of things like this. Because his normally insatiable curiosity will take a step back for trust. And Regulus is a firm believer in the fact that knowledge is, in fact, power. Perhaps he should have been a Ravenclaw; 'Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.'
But no, because Regulus prizes knowledge for the advantage it gives. He treasures knowledge because it gives him something to hold over those who do not know, and that's the Slytherin in him.
Yet, when it comes to Remus, Regulus will forfeit knowledge just because Remus asks him to. He will stay in the metaphorical dark, where he so hates to be, all because he trusts. And that, he fears, is doomed to be his downfall.